Most organisations involved in supply chain have invested significantly in business-critical mobile technology to support the demands of ever-increasing worker productivity.  

However, if this technology is not managed and controlled in the right way it will have a major impact on business performance.

"For every minute of supply chain down-time organisations lose £300".


It is a staggering number, but one that highlights the importance of these best practices in mobile technology management.

In an ever-changing world and the unprecedented demands put on supply chains, IT and operations departments must do all they can to gear themselves up for the peak demands ahead.

Let us share with you our top best practices to gear yourself up for peak trading;

1. Mobile Device Rentals

As additional labour is required to cope with the increase in peak demand, so too does the requirement for more mobile technology. Many companies rent devices for these 2 to 3 months helping to reduce capital expenditure on devices not used throughout the year. An additional advantage of this approach is it helps prevent devices from going missing that are not used for long periods of the year.

2. Ease of deploying new and additional mobile devices

You need to get devices set up and running as quickly as possible and with an MDM tool you have a range of methods to rapidly configure a mobile device with all the required settings, applications and security needed by your business.

Is this build optimised and written with best practice in mind?

What impact is the build having on performance?

Enrolment of devices can be as simple as scanning a barcode, tapping an NFC tag or even just switching it on – and downloading a profile from Android’s Zero Touch portal for example.

3. Barcode Label monitoring

If you run out of barcode labels your distribution centre can grind to a holt and with the ever-increasing lead times for certain labels it is very easy to find yourself short. The latest print monitoring software can tell you exactly how many labels have gone through each printer, estimate the average daily usage and forecast when you will run out. Three months supply may well work for most of the year, but this could only be weeks of supply in peak trading. Therefore, having an automated alert means it is one less thing to worry about.

4. Device Analytics

Many of the large device manufactures such as Zebra Technologies, have invested millions of dollars in providing software tools to improve visibility and control across estates of mobile technology. It helps to predict device failures, minimise device disruptions and ensure maximum uptime – all factors critical to supply chain best practice.

Having proactive alerts, dashboards and reporting shared across a wide set of stakeholders in your business can give essential information and advance warnings of issues that would impact the business if not dealt with in time.

5. Managing and Controlling Device updates

Although some applications can be updated automatically, firmware revisions and security updates are not always enforced and these updated may be critical to device performance. However, it can also work the other way too and these updates may be frequently pushed out without there being a specific need.

What device build control and update process is in place? Is this best use of your limited resources or one that should be provided by experts?

Tools such as LifeGuard from Zebra can help manage which updates are critical and can support / filter the deployment process.

6. Asset Management

Another critical best practice which goes much wider than mobile device management is the management of the asset itself.

Smart asset lockers can provide a quick and auditable way to issue devices at the start of a shift, ensure they are returned and track damage / faults – often logging repairs / swaps automatically.

Report and alerts can help to ensure individual accountability is taken for the use of that specific device and that it is returned in a working state.

Do you know exactly how many devices you have, in which sites and ensuring you are only paying for maintenance on those in use?

Different types of technology such as barcode scanners, voice terminals, mobile printers and other IT assets can be managed providing a tangible and significant ROI.

7. Multi-Model Performance

With the ever-increasing performance of mobile devices they are now powerful computers in the hands of your mobile workers and seldom used for single purpose processes.

Having a range of application work flows means devices need to be more versatile. If a device can offer hands free performance, pistol grip for intense scanning and RFID capability for rapid inventory counts, then more standardisation can be reached across the site / business. Standardisation leads to lower training costs, higher efficiency and leveraging economies of scale for improved commercial buying power.

8. Enforcing Policy

It is highly likely you will have some terms by which you want your mobile users to operate, these could be as strict as restricting access to certain applications, web content or enabling access to specific data based on location only. All of this is only possible if you have a suitable administration platform from which to control the permissions of individuals or groups of users.

Policy management can streamline worker performance and ensure mobile worker activity is limited to the areas that drive productivity.

We hope these best practices help you to consider ways you can improve your performance in readiness for peak trading and we look forward to supporting you in that process.